By Jeff Gallatin
City police say a Thursday report of a man exposing himself to two teenage girls on Lincoln Road near Debbington Drive could be related to similar incidents that occurred earlier this spring.
However, officers said it doesn’t appear to be related to an Oct. 15 incident earlier in the week where a 10-year-old middle school girl told police a man tried to get her to get into his van near the intersection of Walmar and Carlton.
“They’re both serious and we’re investigating all aspects of them,” Detective Mark Spaetzel said. “But this latest one appears to be related to the indecent exposure incidents earlier this year.”
Spaetzel said the latest incident began about 6:20 p.m., when a black four-door sedan in good condition pulled up by two teenage girls out walking a dog. The vehicle was described as similar to a Ford Focus.
“The male made a sexual comment and the girls believed the male was masturbating in the vehicle,” Spaetzel said. “The male never exited the vehicle, nor did he try to entice the girls into the car, but he immediately drove away.”
Spaetzel said the girls described the driver as a white male, about 30 to 35 years of age, with shaggy dark short hair, a pale complexion, chubby face and a little overweight.
“These physical descriptions are similar enough that they may be related to previous incidents of indecent exposure that Bay Village has experienced since April of 2012,” he said.
Spaetzel said it is troubling if there is indeed one person involved in more than one incident.
“It’s not good anytime you have something like this, but if there is someone driving around Bay Village or other nearby cities, then it’s something we need to put a stop to,” he said.
Spaetzel said one way people can help police more is by letting officers know right away when an incident occurs.
“It just takes a phone call,” he said. “There have been incidents where it’s been hours before we’re notified. This is something where people should let us know immediately. We have cars out all over the city, and if we find out quicker we can go looking for them quicker.”
Spaetzel said the department has been working closely with schools to get personal safety information to the students and children. He added police have increased patrols throughout the city during specific hours.
“All investigative leads are being pursued to identify and arrest the persons involved in these incidents,” he said.
In the Monday enticement incident, Spaetzel said the 10-year-girl had gotten off her school bus with other students on Walmar and Carlton. As she walked north on Walmar, she was approached by a man in a van. Spaetzel said the girl told them the man said “hi” and asked the girl to “get in.” The girl immediately ran to other people who had gotten off the bus and told them what happened. The police were notified, and they immediately checked the area.
The girl described the van as a light blue metallic Caravan with rear tinted windows. The bumpers of the Caravan matched the vehicle color. The white male driver had gray hair, wore round dark-rimmed glasses and a red polo-style shirt and was estimated at being between 50 and 65 years old.
Spaetzel said people can contact the police anytime at 440-871-1234. He also asked that parents instruct their children in the basic rules for personal safety (see side bar).
• Always travel with at least one other friend.
• Tell parents where you are going and call them when you get to your location.
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Never approach a car you are not familiar with.
• Avoid strangers, and if approached, loudly and clearly tell them you don’t know them and seek trusted adult help.
• Know where you can safely go on your route home if you become suspicious or afraid.
• Contact the police immediately by cellphone if you see something suspicious.
• If it can be done safely, get a license plate number or cellphone picture of a suspicious vehicle.
• Tell your parents about any unusual behavior or circumstances you observe.
– Source: Bay Village Police Department